The grey skies over Carbally Church on Sunday morning last mirrored the mood among the hundreds of mourners who bade farewell to Jack Power of Brownstown, whose young life was snuffed out in the early hours of Thursday last. Bewilderment and shock was both palpable and pervasive among the congregation, who for the past few sleepless days and nights have been left wondering why Jack’s life was ended so shockingly and abruptly.
However, admiration was another sentiment which was widely expressed in the minutes and hours which immediately followed last Sunday’s Requiem Mass given the manner in which Mr Power’s mother, Loretta, addressed the congregation. At a moment of indescribable personal loss, with her family and close-knit community surrounding her, Mrs Power shared her love for Jack (25) with warmth, eloquence and remarkable dignity. “Jack will leave a huge void in our family,” she said. “Loyalty was important to him, one of his best qualities. Jack has a lot of friends and they all know who they are today and will miss him very much.
“Jack’s life was so short but he lived it to the full…He worked hard and played hard, was very witty and he loved the craic.”
But “the best (story) of the lot,” in his mother’s view, concerned Jack’s approach to answering a question in his Leaving Cert Irish paper. To laughter, Mrs Power recalled her late son’s words: “I don’t know anything about Irish, but I’m some man to haul nets…typical Jack.”
Loretta Power concluded: “We all have memories of Jack and through them he always be remembered. And I would like to thank everybody here today for their help and support in the last few days. It was very much appreciated.”
In little over two minutes, a grieving mother shared some well-considered and loving thoughts about the son that she and her husband Richard have been robbed of, demonstrating astounding strength in the midst of such an appalling, unfathomable trauma.
And every single moment of applause afforded Loretta Power thereafter was as earned as it was sincere. It was a remarkable shard of light during a period of immense and unquantifiable darkness and it was beyond humbling to hear such words.
For the second time inside a month, we find ourselves reporting on the loss of a young man’s life, and both tragedies have provided much pause for thought. Why, in the eyes of some in our society, has life become so cheap and so disposable? And what is going to be done to prevent such future crimes, a consideration which is surely as important a policing mechanism as the solving of tragedies such as last Thursday’s? An appalling reality faces the Power family for the rest of their lives: an empty chair at the dinner table and all the chapters of a promising, happy life that shall forever remain unwritten. Looking beyond this investigation, a community which has articulated its fears regarding criminality for some time must, with Garda support, take a united stand and declare: enough. This cycle of violence which has darkened so many doors across the country, both urban and rural, must be broken.